FSU’s Mountain City Traditional Arts to Present “Maple Syrup Production in Western Maryland” PDF Print E-mail
Appalachian Culture - Appalachian Culture
Written by FSU News and Media Services   
Monday, 23 January 2017 10:34

LeoMountain City Traditional Arts will host the program “Maple Syrup Production in Western Maryland” on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m. at 25 E. Main St. in Frostburg. The event, which teaches the local community about maple syrup production in the region, features recent Maryland Traditions Heritage Award Winners Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup and S&S Maple Camp. Both were recognized by the Maryland Traditions Program of the Maryland State Arts Council for their roles in continuing the tradition of maple syrup making in Western Maryland. The event is free and open to the public.

“Maryland is home to a wealth of agricultural traditions, and one of the sweetest comes from the Appalachian west, where families like the Steyers and Shinholts have been passing down maple syrup-harvesting practices for generations,” said Chad Buterbaugh, director of the Maryland Traditions Program, who will participate in the MCTA program.

Maple Syrup production has a rich history in Western Maryland, where operations may have numbered in the hundreds at one time. Only a handful of those remain today, with the Steyers and Shinholts being some of the few producers remaining to keep the tradition alive in Western Maryland.

(Leo Shinholt - photo by Edwin Remsberg.)

“Wind from the north, sap comes forth. Wind from the west, sap runs best. Wind from the east, sap runs least. Wind from the south, sap is a drought,” Leo Shinholt, owner of S&S Maple Camp, is fond of saying. When most residents of the region are still staying indoors and out of the winter weather, Shinholt, of Corriganville in Allegany County, and Michael and Randall Steyer and their families, near Oakland in Garrett County, are walking miles, sometimes in snowshoes, to drill holes in maple trees, set taps and collect sap.

Sap can run for two months or more, from mid- to late February through early April, but the sweet spot of that time frame, when sap runs best, may be only a third of that time. It is during that intense period that running and boiling sap becomes the focus of life in the Steyer and Shinolt families, both of which have been at it for three decades or more. Shinholt learned the tradition from his grandfather; the Steyer family has been engaged in the practice for more than 100 years.

In early spring, the Sugar Camp becomes the hub of social activity for both families. Family and friends gather nightly to share stories, trade gossip and socialize while the sap is boiled down to produce syrup. “The maple syrup-making process represents ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, but it also provides a source of fellowship for the immediate and extended family members who come together each winter to participate in tapping, boiling and bottling,” said Buterbaugh.

The program is being presented as part of a partnership with the the Western Maryland Heritage Association, which is partnering with the Maryland Humanities Council to bring the Smithsonian travelling exhibition, “The Way We Worked,” to Western Maryland. The main exhibition will be hosted by the Allegany Museum in Cumberland from February through March. Additionally, six Allegany County museums and historic sites will develop companion displays featuring labor and work themes.

A program of Frostburg State University, Mountain City Traditional Arts is dedicated to the education, sales, documentation and perpetuation of the traditional arts in Western Maryland.

For more information, contact MCTA at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call 301-687-8040.

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258.

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